Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when oil traps dead skin cells and debris within hair follicles. Inflammation, bacteria, hormones, and other factors can contribute to the issue.

No studies have directly investigated peanut butter’s relationship to acne. But the added sugars in some peanut butters and compounds in it such as omega-6 fatty acids may cause some people’s acne to worsen.

Below, we explore what the evidence suggests about peanut butter’s possible links to acne. We also take a close look at this food’s health profile and offer general tips for preventing the skin issue.

two people are sat down eating peanut butter out of a jarShare on Pinterest
martinedoucet/Getty Images

A person might assume that peanut butter is bad for acne because it contains trans fats. Indeed, a lot of oily or processed fast foods contain trans fats, which have strong links with diet-induced acne.

However, a 2016 study found that the levels of trans fats in peanut butter were almost undetectable.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have banned trans fats in the United States, so peanut butter in the country no longer contains any.

A 2014 study noted links between saturated fats and worsened acne among 248 participants aged 18–25.

A single serving of peanut butter, or 45 grams (g), contains 4.54 g of saturated fat, an amount similar to that in some oils.

However, in moderation, saturated fat is not as harmful as some people think. A diet high in saturated fat, which might contain plenty of ultra-processed and fried foods, may increase the risk of chronic diseases.

Learn about the different types of fat here.

Omega-6s, like omega-3s, are essential fatty acids, and a person needs some in their diet.

The Western diet typically contains high levels of ultra-processed foods, which are rich in omega-6s but contain few omega-3s. Peanut butter, which often contains various oils, such as palm oil, is also a source of omega-6s.

The body needs both omega-6s and omega-3s, but maintaining the right balance is key. Consuming too many omega-6s, which tend to be pro-inflammatory, and not enough omega-3s, which are anti-inflammatory, may lead to negative health outcomes.

Acne is a chronic inflammatory disease, so an imbalance that favors the pro-inflammatory omega-6s may worsen this skin issue. A 2017 study concluded that high levels of omega-6s in the diet may lead to an increase in acne.

For optimal skin health, try to find a balance between omega-6s and omega-3s. This generally means consuming more omega-3s and fewer omega-6s, which can be found in processed foods and certain vegetable oils, such as soybean oil.

Learn about sources of omega 3-s, including vegan ones, here.

Peanut agglutinin is a type of protein called a lectin.

Lectins are difficult for the body to digest and can irritate the small intestine. This damage can lead to increased intestinal permeability, making it easier for substances in the intestines to leak into the bloodstream.

A 2019 study has shown that intestinal permeability can cause acne, and this could be because it causes inflammation and compromises the immune system.

However, drawing a conclusion requires further research. So far, no studies have directly associated peanut agglutinin, acne, and intestinal permeability.

Moreover, an older study, from 2011, showed that when peanuts are cooked, their lectin levels drop significantly. Overall, no evidence shows that the roasted peanuts in peanut butter cause acne due to their lectin contents.

Many manufacturers add sugar or other sweeteners to their peanut butters. A single serving, or 45 g, contains 4.72 g of sugar.

And an older study, from 2012, found that a frequent intake of added sugar contributes to acne risk. Therefore, it is possible that regularly eating peanut butter that contains added sugar might contribute to breakouts.

Spikes in blood sugar may cause acne, so it is worth noting the added sugar contents of foods that might go with peanut butter, such as baked goods or jelly.

To eat less added sugar, look for unsweetened peanut butters, and check the ingredients lists on labels carefully. Peanut butters and other products often advertise that they contain “no added sugar.”

Learn how much sugar a person should eat here.

Peanut butter is a nutrient-rich food. A single serving, or 45 g, contains 10.1 g of protein and 2.16 g of dietary fiber. It also contains vitamin E, folate, and other nutrients.

Opting for a more healthy peanut butter may help some people prevent spikes in blood sugar, according to a 2013 study.

It may also help boost levels of heart-friendly cholesterol.

Learn more about the possible health benefits of peanut butter.

To prevent acne, the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommend having a low-glycemic diet, which contains plenty of foods such as whole grains, vegetables, lean sources of protein, healthy fats, and fruits.

What exactly is a low-glycemic diet? Find out here.

Other ways to prevent acne include:

  • washing the face at least twice a day with a gentle soap
  • avoiding scrubs and any other harsh products
  • avoiding direct sun exposure
  • not using tanning beds
  • washing the hair regularly
  • avoiding picking or scratching at acne or its scars

Find 10 more tips for preventing acne here.

Peanut butter is unlikely to cause acne. Though some products contain added sugar, in general, the amounts of ingredients that could trigger acne are relatively low. Plus, peanut butter is a good source of several important nutrients.

However, if peanut butter seems to be contributing to breakouts, a person might cut it from their diet for a while to see if this helps. Or, a person might try other strategies, such as switching to a gentle soap.

Several over-the-counter products and home care techniques may help with acne breakouts.